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Anders Lindback Expected in Goal Tonight vs. Jets

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Anders Lindback is expected to get the start tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the Winnipeg Jets at American Airlines Center.

Lindback was the first goaltender off the ice at this morning’s skate, an indication that he’ll get nod in net. Lindback is coming off a solid performance on Tuesday night. He took over for Kari Lehtonen midway through the first period and stopped 34 of 36 shots as the Stars rallied for a 5-4 win over Ottawa.

“The fact that I was able to stay in there and help the team win the game. That’s the biggest thing,” Lindback said. “I made a couple of saves when I needed to. Overall, I felt good and that’s fun.”

This will be Lindback’s sixth start of the season.

The Stars didn’t skate lines or defense pairs this morning, so it’s not clear what Stars coach Lindy Ruff is thinking as far as a lineup. Vernon Fiddler, who missed Tuesday’s game with a lower body injury, took part in the skate and Ruff said he was available for tonight. But Fiddler skated late, so it’s not clear if he’ll play. David Schlemko was among the last players off the ice, so it appears he will be the scratch on defense. That means Jamie Oleksiak should be back on the blue line after being a healthy scratch the past two games.

Tonight’s game is a big one for the Stars, who are four points behind Vancouver, which holds the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. Winnipeg holds the first wild card spot and is seven points ahead of the Stars.

“Well, we try to treat every game as being a real important contest,” said Ruff. “And obviously when you’re playing someone that’s ahead of you in the standings, it’s important. I think Winnipeg has played as well as any team I’ve watched play.”

“It’s a really big game for us, especially here before the break,” said Lindback. “We really need these points. We need to really do whatever it takes to be ready to go from the start and play all the game through.”

Jamie Benn: Injury? What injury

After Wednesday’s practice, Stars coach Lindy Ruff said that captain Jamie Benn has been bothered by an injury most of the season and it could be taking a toll.

“Has it been there all year? This is something that’s a little bit chronic,” Ruff said. “I do (think it’s affected him), yeah. I think it has.”

After Thursday morning’s skate, Benn was asked about that chronic injury bothering him.

“Me? I’m fine,” Benn said. “No, not at all.”

Patrick Eaves skates, should return after break

Stars forward Patrick Eaves, who has been out since early December with an ankle injury, took part in this morning’s skate and is getting closer to a return.

“Feeling better,” Eaves said after coming off the ice. “I saw a doctor Tuesday afternoon and he gave me the go ahead to start pushing it. It’s good news and I am ready to get back.”

Eaves broke a bone in his ankle blocking a shot in the Dec. 2 game at Toronto. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Eaves could be ready within a week, which indicates that Eaves could be ready to return after the All-Star break.

Jets watch

Ondrej Pavelec will get the start in goal for Winnipeg tonight. He is 10-10-6 with a 2.52 goals against average and .909 save percentage this season. Pavelec is 0-2-2 in his last four starts and has given up four goals in each game.

“He played really well in Anaheim (5-4 shootout loss on Sunday) and he feels good about his game,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “I think the rotation sets up right for him.”

The Jets play at Chicago tomorrow night and Michael Hutchinson should get that start.

Winnipeg comes into tonight’s game with points in its last three games (2-0-1) and has scored 16 goals in those three games, including eight in its last win.

Thursday’s game

Who: Winnipeg Jets at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/96.7 FM

Stars projected lineup

Jamie BennTyler SeguinBrett Ritchie
Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky
Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt
Travis MoenShawn HorcoffColton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiJohn Klingberg
Jamie OleksiakTrevor Daley
Jordie BennJason Demers

Anders Lindback
Kari Lehtonen

Scratch: David Schlemko

Injured: Vernon Fiddler (lower body), Patrick Eaves (ankle), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)

Jets projected lineup

Andrew Ladd – Bryan Little – Blake Wheeler
Mathieu Perreault – Mark Scheifele – Michael Frolik
Evander Kane – Adam Lowry – Matt Halischuk
Chris Thorburn – Jim Slater – Anthony Peluso

Tobias Enstrom – Zach Bogosian
Ben Chiarot – Dustin Byfuglien
Mark Stuart – Jay Harrison

Ondrej Pavelec
Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: TJ Galiardi, Adam Pardy, Paul Postma.

Injured: Grant Clitsome (upper body), Jacob Trouba (upper body).

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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